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Vampire Cop Ricky
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by Jay Seaver

"Could have used a little more vampire and a little less cop."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 FANTASIA FESTIVAL: "Vampire Cop Ricky" opens with a scene that strikes me very funny - in a dark Transylvanian castle, Count Dracula's coffin opens and he rises to begin a night of terrifying the nearby village. But there's a mosquito buzzing around, and it's driving him nuts, sending him into a fit of rage when it bites. As the mosquito flies away, only the encounter an oncoming plane, we see Dracula howling in completely disproportionate fury. And I'm thinking, man, if the film can keep this kind of off-kilter vibe up for another two hours...

Of course, hitting the plane doesn't kill the mosquito - it is now a vampire mosquito, and as such is hardier than its non-undead brethren. In the meantime, though, we meet Do-yul (Kim Su-ro) - the "Ricky" of the title, though I don't see where that name comes from - on a raid to bust illegal betting kingpin Tak Mun-su (Son Byung-ho). But Tak's been tipped off - as we later learn, but Do-yul himself. Do-yul, of course, gets bitten by the mosquito, and starts to gain vampire abilities (and weaknesses) even as his corruption is uncovered. And as if Tak's gang and his fellow officers aren't enough trouble, the Vatican has dispatched a vampire hunter (Oh Kwang-rok) with an ultimatum - stop using your vampiric abilities right away, so that you can possibly revert to humanity, or get a stake through the heart.

There's a good deal of entertainment to be had in this movie, but it's got a fairly bloated midsection; one fellow near me took a thirty or forty-five minute nap and I really don't know if he missed anything particularly important. After the initial half-hour kicking things off, things settle down while the characters go through their motions until director Lee Si-myung and his three writers suddenly seem to remember that they pitched this movie as an action-comedy with about forty-five minutes to go,.

At that point, the movie kicks itself into a higher gear, and things start to get fun again. It turns out, for instance, that Do-yul's ability to shrug off most attacks isn't around all the time - he's got to be stimulated. And life-threatening danger doesn't do that nearly as well as horniness. So he'll get in the middle of a chase and then whip out a little video player with some porn pre-loaded on to it to get that extra boost that lets him jump thirty feet into the air. Being a vampire also apparently means instinctive martial arts abilities, but he doesn't know that. There's a scene in a nightclub that Jackie Chan would likely approve of where he uses the available environment to fight off a few thugs where he goes from cowardly to cocky in very entertaining fashion.

It's not just the stuntwork that Kim Su-ro handles so well, either. Do-yul is something of a jerk on top of being a corrupt cop, so it's a fairly nice trick to get us on his side. A lot of that is done by the script, having him do basically decent things like show up to make sure his girlfriend Yeong-hee (Jo Yeo-jeong) gets home from work safely every night, or state that gambling is about as far as he's willing to take his corruption. Kim makes Do-yul just a tiny bit more sincere when he's doing the right thing than when he's acting on his baser impulses. It's not that those moments of being a lech or talking smack in the middle of a fight aren't genuine, but they're not as important to him as protecting his girlfriend or helping his boss. He's also very good at the physical comedy, and has enough charm to get through the bits that are basically mugging unscathed.

The rest of the cast is filled with pretty basic characters: Jo Yeo-jeong plays a pretty girl who wants Do-yul to be more serious; Jeon Ho-jin plays Do-yul's superior officer with the expected combination of being a hardass and looking at Do-yul as a brother. Son Byung-ho leans on a few "middle-aged gay man" stereotypes as the gangster, but mostly with aplomb. Oh Kwang-rok manages to make his vampire hunter character believable as a priest most concerned about saving Do-yul's soul while being just steely enough that it's possible he'd kill him if it seemed necessary. None are ever able to really steal a scene from Kim Su-ro, but they give able support.

There's a lot of middle to this movie that's not very exciting, but does it really need to be? It's got a nifty hook, and the ending has enough different varieties of cool and fun to send the audience home happy. The rest does a sufficient job of bridging the gap that when the movie ends, the last act is more likely to be talked up rather than snickered at, and if a movie named "Vampire Cop Ricky" sends the audience away smiling, it's probably done its job.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14796&reviewer=371
originally posted: 08/09/06 00:43:18
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Fantasia Film Festival For more in the 2006 Fantasia Film Festival series, click here.

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Directed by
  Lee Si-myung

Written by
  Kim Se-Gyeom
  Jeon Sun-Wuk
  Namgung Kyun

Cast
  Kim Su-Ro
  Jo Yeo-Jeong
  Oh Gwang-Rok



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